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pdf SCAR XXXII WP20: Report of the Social Sciences Action Group

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XXXII SCAR Delegates Meeting
23-25 July 2012, Portland Oregon, USA

SCAR XXXII WP20: Report of the Social Sciences Action Group

Working Paper 20
Agenda Item: 5.4.3
Posted/Revised: June 14
Person Responsible: Liggett

Executive Summary

Title: Report of the SCAR Social Sciences Action Group

Authors: D. Liggett, G. Steel, J. Salazar & K. Bastmeijer, P. Berkman, S. Chaturvedi, E. del Acebo Ibañéz, A. Hemmings, M. Lamers, E. Leane, E. Stewart & other members of the steering group of the SCAR Social Sciences Action Group

Introduction/Background: The costs of human activities in Antarctica, not merely from an economic perspective but also from environmental, social and cultural points of view, are increasingly acknowledged. In light of the coverage (in the media and in policy discussions) of the many aspects of human endeavour in the Antarctic, policy-makers, educators, scientists and the wider public are asked to weigh multiple costs and benefits (that is to say, values) against one another. Understanding the extent and nature of the values that human beings place on Antarctica has large-scale and very serious implications for human engagement with and activity in the Antarctic in the future.

Important Issues or Factors: Social scientists and humanities researchers have the expertise and tools to lead an academic assessment of Antarctic values.  The Social Sciences AG (hereon referred to as “the group”) was established to carry out research targeted at understanding and cataloguing the range of values underpinning human engagement with the Antarctic.  As this report and the list of research outputs (in the appendices) show, this research effort has progressed considerably.  At the same time, it has become clear that a thorough exploration of human values associated with Antarctica is a complex task that requires more time and continued efforts.  However, this research project promises considerable benefits in the long run, especially with regard to understanding decision-making in an Antarctic context and developing alternative strategies for environmental management.

Recommendations/Actions and Justification: We request that the group’s term be extended to 2014 to maintain the momentum established through the Antarctic values research project and to enable a thorough examination of the complexities associated with Antarctic values and their implications.

Expected Benefits/Outcomes: The group will continue to raise the profile of SCAR in the public realm and in social science and humanities research communities by demonstrating that SCAR supports research outside the realm of the natural sciences and that it encourages multi-disciplinary research efforts.  Facilitating an examination of Antarctic values through this group will also help SCAR to provide policy advice that is rooted in a thorough understanding of the drivers of human engagement with the Antarctic.  Finally, a range of academic publications resulting from this research effort will bolster SCAR’s scholarly record.

Partners: The group has regular communication with the SCAR History EG and with the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) and has established contact with representatives of the IASC Social and Human Sciences Working Group. Endeavours are underway to establish close collaborations with researchers working on Arctic social science and humanities topics in order to expand the reach of Antarctic social science and humanities research.

Budget Implications: The group would like to continue operating with the current budget of $3000 per year.